For May’s interview I caught up with Rebecca Gransden, author of the fantasmagorically delightful Anemogram. Rebecca has also kindly offered a paperback giveaway of Anemogram to one lucky reader of this interview. All you have to do is retweet this interview on your twitter account to be in with a chance to win. You can read my review of Anemogram here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/anemogram-review/
What was your background and how did you get into writing?
I’m from the south coast of England and have what I guess would be classified as a traditional working class background. I received a few encouraging words at school and they confirmed my unsteady assertion that I could write a bit if I put my mind to it. I’ve concentrated mostly on short stories over the years, until I attempted to write my first longer piece in 2014. That resulted in my first, and only release so far, Anemogram.
You sound a lot like me there! Except I’m yet to finish my novel never mind have it published! What are your ambitions for your writing?
To always push myself forwards, to strive to improve in the areas I think I need to, and to challenge myself. If I don’t feel I’ve moved forward in some way or another I see no point in releasing anything, especially with regard to novels. My predominant impulse is to not shortchange myself or do a disservice to anyone who might pick up my writing. For this reason I will always take risks. To me, feeling comfortable is a sign that I need to move on, whatever the outcome.
Which writers inspire you?
I have writers I admire, probably too many to mention here, but I’ll say Paul Auster, Chekov for his short stories, JG Ballard, and Lydia Millet is great stylistically. I’m mostly inspired by fellow indie authors whose work connects with me, such as Leo X. Robertson, Harry Whitewolf and Rupert Dreyfus. It’s important to me to have the immediacy of those currently creating as an energising force. And their stuff is great.
Anemogram has a very unusual premise and theme, where did the idea come from?
I wish I knew! I had about two weeks to come up with some basic ideas in order to take part in National Novel Writing Month. I knew that I wanted a female protagonist, and to cover some specific themes, and then embarked on a pretty intense month. Anemogram is the result.
It sounds like you work well under pressure in that case! Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I’m taking a break from writing as intensely this year, but I do plan to fit in a novella at some point. I have a short story collection that I’m in the process of finalising in order to release. Last year I completed the first draft of a science fiction themed novel, and I will return to that to edit, although I have no idea if and when I’ll release it.
You have quite a lot going on then! What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc.
All my writing is now carried out on a laptop, just for convenience. My first few short stories were handwritten and it was valuable to transfer them to the laptop making adjustments and improvements as I went. I am interested in attempting something handwritten again as there is a difference in the process that could be creatively beneficial.
It can’t be denied that handwriting makes your arm hurt a lot more than typing though 🙂 Would you ever consider writing in a different genre or is there a genre you wish you could write?
I’ll try anything in any mixture or permutation. I want to incorporate different areas, to make things interesting and keep pushing myself. Always willing to fall flat on my face if it’s fun! I’ve found it difficult to categorise Anemogram. I worry about genre placement after writing, if at all. I have a whole bunch of horror stories that may be released at some point.
How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes?
I like to set aside specific periods of time to immerse myself in what I’m writing. It doesn’t suit me to have multiple projects active at once, as all my energy needs to point one way. I have a generalised minimum daily word count when I’m in a writing phase, though life does get in the way of that sometimes of course, but if that happens I’m mindful to play catchup the next day in order to stay on a self-imposed schedule. When I’m not actively writing I’m either editing, reading, researching, beta-reading, promoting or doing something to ensure I stay engaged.
What sort of publishing route did you choose and why?
I’m a supporter of self-publishing as my instincts are that as far as possible writers, and anyone who produces a creative commodity, should retain ownership of their work. This puts pressure on those who do self-publish to ensure that what we release is high quality, especially with regard to formatting and presentation. I love the spirit of independent publishing, on whatever scale, and most of the interesting reading I come across originates from that world.
Without a big publishing house behind you though, how do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures?
As I have only one release so far my experience of promotion is quite limited. For me, it is important that any promotion I do is an extension of how I make my way through the world, and gives an accurate impression of what I and my writing stands for. I’m aware of what I won’t do—such as pay for reviews—and prefer to look for fun ways for my writing to find those who may be interested in reading it.
If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why?
A book that I returned to endlessly as a kid called Encyclopaedia of Legendary Creatures by Tom McGowan. This was full of definitions of supernatural and mythological beings from around the world and each creature was depicted in an accompanying illustration by Victor Ambrus. His drawings are very distinctive and chilling. I think it would’ve been a fascinating project to put together, and exciting for the author to collaborate with such an amazing illustrator.
I might have to check that out as I love myths, legends, etc. What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews?
Reviews are great to have as they do help give a general impression of what a book is about. There’s no denying that it is helpful for a potential reader to have reviews available in order to gain further information about a book before they decide if it is for them or not. My strategy has been one of seeking out readers and reviewers who may get something out of reading my book. I’ve tried to be quite focused and I’ve had a mostly positive experience, whether my book has been enjoyed or not. My concern is not so much to do with a positive or negative reaction, but if my book has been fairly represented or not. I think discerning readers who are familiar with review sites and with review culture look for indications of whether the book will appeal to them, and can filter out much of the noise. Reviews mean less as they are distrusted more but they are still important at this stage, and there’s no doubt positive reviews have an effect.
Thank you so much for taking part in the interview Rebecca and for agreeing kindly to do a giveaway as well!
If you’d like to see more from Rebecca you can check out her website, Amazon account and social media pages here:
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rebecca-Gransden/e/B014I5D5OU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1